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University of Alicante researchers discover regulatory mechanisms of living beings' circadian rhythms

Researchers at the University of Alicante have discovered regulatory mechanisms of living beings’ circadian rhythms.

A further application may lead to the production of more affordable biofuel



Liquid culture of various Synechococcus mutants


Alicante, 6 February 2015

Researchers at the Department of Physiology, Genetics and Microbiology of the University of Alicante and the Biological Sciences Division at the University of California, in San Diego, have recently published an article in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), which draws conclusions on the circadian rhythms. This is the name by which the internal clock is known that exists in animals and plants and allows them to adapt to the conditions, which are extremely diverse and changing  in some geographical areas. The cycles of light and dark (day and night) are extremely important for species and life activity on earth. Thus, most organisms have internal clocks. The paper published in the UA discovers regulatory mechanisms that allow molecular communication between environmental signals and those controlling the internal clock to optimise photosynthetic and metabolic processes.

Cyanobacteria were pioneers in developing an internal clock to adapt themselves and even anticipate the cycles of light and darkness. In order to carry out this study, scientists have worked with the model organism in which more molecular details are known about the circadian clock, which is the cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus PCC7942, used in laboratories around the world.

Cyanobacteria are organisms that created the planet's oxygen atmosphere and enabled life as we currently understand it. They perform more efficiently than plants the same type of photosynthesis by consuming CO2 and thus have enormous evolutionary and ecological importance, and a great biotechnological potential. Thus, one practical application of the study may be the production of a more affordable biofuel.

This work connects the research lines of a University of Alicante group and another from San Diego, respectively led by geneticists Asunción Contreras and Susan Golden. Four of the six researchers working on this belong to the Department of Physiology, Genetics and Microbiology at the UA.


Bibliographic reference:

Javier Espinosa, Joseph S. Boyd, Raquel Cantos, Paloma Salinas, Susan S. Golden, Asunción Contreras.

Division of Genetics, University of Alicante, Alicante, Spain; and Center for Circadian Biology, Division of Biological Sciences, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093.

Cross-talk and regulatory interactions between the essential response regulator RpaB and cyanobacterial circadian clock output

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)


Link to paper on line


Investigaciones2 Investigaciones3
Synechococcus biomass in solid medium

Photo: group members (left-right):Paloma Salinas, Raquel Cantos, Asunción Contreras, Carina Racovac and Javier Espinosa. A member is not in the photo (Jose I. Labella)




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